Black Hole Gobbles Star

This diagram illustrates a possible explanation for a series of intense bursts of energy seen by the NASA Swift satellite's Burst Alert Telescope on March 28, 2011. Subsequent Hubble Space Telescope observations showed that the blasts originated from the center of a dwarf spheroidal galaxy located nearly 4 billion light-years away. The unusual string of powerful outbursts likely arose when a star wandered too close to its galaxy's central black hole, weighing perhaps as much as 1 million times the mass of our Sun. Intense gravitational tidal forces tore the star apart, and the infalling gas continues to stream toward the hole. The black hole formed a jet along its spin axis. Because the jet is pointed toward Earth, astronomers see a powerful blast of X-rays and gamma rays.

Sky and Telescope are reporting that teams led by Josh Bloom (University of California in Berkeley), and Andrew Levan (University of Warwick) when it ripped apart a star and produced a powerful Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB) that was picked up by the Swift Spacecraft on March 28, this year. If there conclusions as to the cause of this GBR are right we are very lucky to have seen it.

According to Bloom “We would have to look at 100 million galaxies every year to see at least one event a year,” . The can you image someone shining a flashlight at you from 4 billion light years away and you actually see it. Truly a rare event. If you want to read Josh Blooms scientific paper on this event you can find it here.

I plucked this quote from an article at aristechnica websites science section.

…the truly eye-popping figures came when researchers calculated the amount of energy released by Sw 1644+57. The brightest X-ray flare they detected pumped out over 1048ergs/second, and the total output during the first 11 days is estimated at over 1053ergs. For those of you not up on your ergs, that’s over 1030 megatons or, as the authors put it, “equivalent to ~10% of the rest energy of the Sun.”

It find those figures quite astounding. You can read the full Aristechncia by follow the link above.